The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Thinks We're Still in the Bush Era

cbppdebtchart.jpg
Another day, another chart from the "non-partisan" Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on what "accounts" for the public debt.  At some level, these exercises are silly: all prior legislation could be equally said to "account" for public debt, including, of course, Social Security and Medicare.  These charts are usually just a dog-whistle where we pick out the programs we don't like and show that without them, things wouldn't be so bad!

But what is ridiculous-to-the-point-of-metaphysical-absurdity is the labeling of that big orange section as "Bush-Era Tax Cuts".  The actual level of the debt incurred by tax cuts passed during the Bush era is represented by the size of the wedge in 2010, plus perhaps a modest amount of interest (interest rates right now are low, and over time, inflation and GDP growth should call that debt to fall, not rise, as a percentage of GDP.)

No, what that ever-widening wedge represents is the tax cuts passed in 2010, plus the assumption that the Obama administration makes the tax cuts permanent.  I know that many liberal groups still see the pernicious influence of George Bush everywhere . . . but does the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities really think that we are still in the "Bush Era"?  Is he the puppetmaster who pulled the string and made Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress dance?  And if so, how come we passed a gargantuan new health care entitlement, instead of reforming Social Security?

This raises a question, of course: when do we think the CBPP will decide that we've finally left the Bush era?  I'm guessing the answer is "Only after we've elected another president."
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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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